Remembering a Titan of Urban Forestry: Ed Drabek

Edwin S. (Ed) Drabek

Feb. 18, 1934 – Jan. 22, 2019

Some factual information for this post is excerpted from Mr. Drabek’s obituary, written by Dale Anderson for The Buffalo News.

Ed Drabek leaves a legacy of nearly 60 years of service to Buffalo’s urban forest and community and to our wider field of urban forestry. Drabek joined the Buffalo Parks Department Forestry Division 1962 as assistant city forester and was promoted to city forester in 1968.

In the early years, his career was consumed by managing the ravages of Dutch elm disease, removing elms and beginning to restock the Buffalo city forest with a wider variety of urban-tolerant species. It’s estimated that Drabek oversaw the removal of about 95,000 mature elms, but then supervised the planting of 75,000 trees—with sustainable biodiversity in mind. 

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Buffalo City Forester Ross Hassinger: Get to Know Him!

Ross and Mandy Hassinger with twin daughters Emily and Josephine at the Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, NY, summer of 2014.
Ross and Mandy Hassinger with twin daughters Emily and Josephine at the Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, NY, summer of 2014.

Were there childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry?
Ross Hassinger: I knew at an early age that I had a passion for working outdoors. As a teenager, I would often mow lawns and do light landscape work for neighbors and relatives to earn extra money. My grandmother would comment on my attention to detail and how I seemed to really enjoy working with nature. She seemed to think it would be my calling. That stuck with me as I went through school and tried to find a meaningful career path.

What have been your educational and career trajectories? RH: After high school, I attended Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin and obtained an associate degree in parks and recreation. After I realized what my ultimate career goals were, I enrolled in the forestry recreation program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Early on in my coursework, I met other students majoring in urban forestry and would often help them with campus tree pruning. Along with my forestry courses, this is where I found my passion for urban forestry. I soon changed my major to urban forestry and became an active member in the Student Society of Arboriculture (SSA). Through the SSA, I attended industry conferences and had opportunities to network with industry professionals. This networking gave me a sense of what the industry had to offer and helped guide me towards working with urban trees for the rest of my career.

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